LIVE: Bombay Bicycle Club At The Belly Up (4/17/14)
By Sarabeth Oppliger on April 18, 2014
It’s rare that a 20-song set careens by without a lull in energy. Capturing an audience’s full attention for 90 minutes is a feat that few bands accomplish. Bombay Bicycle Club’s sold-out show last Thursday night in San Diego defied those expectations as they played to an audience that would have gladly stuck around for 20 more songs.
In support of their latest album So Long, See You Tomorrow, the British indie rockers swung by Solana Beach’s Belly Up, filling the time between their Coachella weekend appearances. The show was injected with such energy and finesse it’s hard to believe the group has been performing nonstop for the past week and has no plans of slowing down.
The evening opened up with colorful textures from Royal Canoe, a six-piecer out of Canada. Employing two drummers, psychedelically chaotic melodies and a heavy emphasis on vocoder, the band melds funk-inspired beats and chanting choruses to create a sound that feels simultaneously high-strung as it is soothing. Bouncing around the cozy stage of the Belly Up, swapping instruments every few songs, Royal Canoe was a perfect introduction to what would be a groove-filled evening.
The crowd was abuzz with anticipation and their relief at seeing BBC hop onto the stage exploded in the form of enthusiastic cheers and applause. The group pounced into tracks from this year’s album, opening with the Bollywood-esque “Overdone.” Popular hit “Shuffle” jangled through the venue and drew more observers from their seats and into the dense crowd. BBC showed off a kaleidoscopic range that spans the indie-rock spectrum as they rocked through heavier classics “Cancel On Me” and “Evening/Morning” and later slowing down for a piano serenade of “Eyes Off You.”
Inspired by front man Jack Steadman’s travels around Asia, So Long, See You Tomorrow has an altogether otherworldly tone to it that contrasted anthems from 2011’s art-rocking A Different Kind Of Fix. The group even threw it back to 2009 with tracks from their debut LP, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Renowned for reinventing their genre with each new album, BBC's set featured sounds from three separate LPs and could have easily felt disjointed, but Steadman’s ear knew better. Not only is the young 20-something-year-old a master at tailoring a cohesive live show, he possesses a voice so hauntingly querulous it renders even the hardest of hearts. With Ed Nash on bass, Jamie MacColl leading guitar and Suren de Saram manning the drums, his bandmates match his charm in both quirkiness and swagger. The ethereal backing vocals of Liz Lawrence add a new layer of intrigue and extract a softness that makes BBC all the more sweeter as its songs dance on your tongue.
Returning to the stage wearing humble smirks in response to the audience’s exaltation, BBC encored with So Long’s thundering lead single “Carry Me,” an intoxicating dance number that left both the band and the audience trembling in delirium.
Although we may not know when the band will return, we’ll hold Bombay Bicycle Club to its album’s promise and hope that “See You Tomorrow” happens much sooner rather than later.